es and trainers in 1999, said she felt a sense of validation and relief after Nassar admitted guilt and was given a de facto lifetime sentence. But she still wants someone to take responsibility at MSU, saying that two of the women she complained to about Nassar are still on staff there.
“I just want them to say something: ‘Yes, we understand. We’re sorry.’ Just something,” said Thomas Lopez. “I’m just hopeful that something will be said soon.”
Nassar was once a revered MSU osteopathic doctor who took care of athletes, primarily gymnasts, including Olympic champions.
Though he claimed to be using techniques that involved adjusting the body to help it heal, his survivors said he sexually assaulted them by digitally penetrating them without a glove. When some complained, they were dismissed or silenced, allowing Nassar to continue to prey on girls for decades.
In August 2016, former Kalamazoo resident Rachael Denhollander became the first person whom authorities believed when she reported that Nassar sexually assaulted her when she was a 15year-old gymnast. She told MSU police and the Indianapolis Star — and Nassar’s life started to unravel.
The child pornography emerged after MSU fired Nassar in September 2016 and he turned in his work laptop computer that had been wiped completely clean, including the operating system. While executing a search warrant at his home in Holt, south of Lansing, MSU police discovered external hard drives with more than 37,000 images and videos of child pornography that had been thrown away in Nassar’s garage can in front of his house on trash collection day.
The drives included images and videos of girls mostly under the age of 12, including some as young as 6. There were also videos with children where Nassar was grabbing a hand of one girl and shoving it into the crotch of another.
Nassar initially pleaded not guilty but then admitted guilt in July to possessing the child pornography.
Neff commented on the staggering number of images and said she had never seen anything like it.
Under federal law, Neff was able to consider the scope of Nassar’s crimes, including his sexual assault of young girls by digital penetration during medical visits, to which he admitted guilt last month. While the 10 charges of first-degree criminal sexual assault he admitted to involve nine young women, nearly 150 young women have come forward, alleging that he sexually assaulted them.
Several are Olympic gymnasts, including Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas, who said during television interviews or on social media that he assaulted them.
Many were in the courtroom, including Maroney, watching the milestone day of reckoning for Nassar.
“Today, the court holds justice for victims here, and across the country,” Neff said. “Fashioning a sentence to punish, deter ... and make sure this man will never harm a child again.”
Before Nassar was sentenced, he said he had been battling a desire for child pornography, calling it “the skeletons in my closet.”
“It’s something I’m ashamed of. ... I lost everything because of this,” he said. “I chose wrongly.”
He also said that he looked back and wondered how he got on this road, even as he tried improve himself.
“I really tried to be a good person. I really tried to help people,” Nassar said. “I hope one day I can be forgiven.”
The judge empathized with the victims and their families, saying that she was a mother of two daughters and couldn’t imagine the anguish they endured.
She also spoke of how he violated the basic tenet of medicine to do no harm, instead harming so many and destroying their trust.
Neff also noted how Nassar was privileged to have a good education, career, reputation and family and wondered where this dark side of him came from.
“He inflicted deep wounds on helpless children,” Neff said. “It is imperative Mr. Nassar be de- terred for as long as possible. ... He should never again have access to children.”
Matt Newburg, an attorney for Nassar, said afterward his client was “devastated” by the sentence and his other attorney, Shannon Smith, said he would appeal.
“At this point, he truly has nothing to lose,” Smith said, adding that she and Newburg would not represent him in an appeal.
Nassar walked out of court with his head down after Neff delivered his sentence, the first for his crimes. He also faces sentencing from state judges in Ingham and Eaton counties next month.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge held a press conference with FBI officials and MSU police to speak about Nassar’s sentence, but declined to address whether they would investigate MSU or other institutions.
Later, MSU officials issued a statement after Nassar’s sentencing.
“Larry Nassar’s sentencing today on federal child pornography charges represents another important step toward justice for the victims,” said MSU spokesman Jason Cody. “As our presi- dent has said, we recognize the pain sexual violence causes and deeply regret any time someone in our community experiences it. We acknowledge it takes real courage for all victims of sexual violence who come forward to share their story. His behavior was deeply disturbing and repugnant, as the state and federal criminal charges that he has been convicted of show.”
Denhollander, however, said that time and again MSU has failed to take responsibility, such as when William Strampel, dean of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, mocked her complaint and told Nassar he was on his side.
She said girls who spoke up before her were silenced and assured that what Nassar was doing was a valid medical treatment.
She has been pleading for answers from MSU and USGA for months as to how Nassar was allowed to sexually assault young women for so long.
“Their response has been heartbreaking,” Denhollander said, “because it reminds me again and again that our voices do not matter.”
Larry Nassar victims Rachael Denhollander, center left, Sterling Riethman, Kaylee Lorincz, Jeanette Antolin, and Tiffany Thomas Lopez talk to the press after the former MSU doctor’s sentencing in the child porn case. He still faces sentencing in the sex assault cases.